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HP brings 3D printing to bear in ‘reinventing’ the footwear shopping experience

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Shoppers can now buy 3D printed in-soles that perfectly fit their feet, using a retail innovation just announced by HP.

HP says its new FitStation will transform the footwear shopping experience by also enabling custom-fitted and individualised footwear, using scanners that take 3D scans of the foot, measure foot pressure, gait analysis and capture volumetric data before local printing using HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology.

“FitStation is a truly disruptive platform that will improve people’s lives and change the way people purchase footwear and shoe insoles,” said Louis Kim, global head of immersive computing, personal systems, at HP Inc. “We are reinventing the footwear shopping experience, bringing a level of customisation and personalisation never before seen. We are stitching HP’s capabilities in 3D scanning and 3D printing to bring this ‘blended reality’ vision to life and are working with leading partners within the footwear industry to develop this revolutionary platform.”

US insole retailer Superfeet has already started piloting the platform in some of its 4,000 retail locations, while in Europe, German safety shoe specialist Steitz Secura will use FitStation.

“For 40 years, we have set the standard for shape and fit,” said Eric Hayes, chief marketing officer at Superfeet. “Until today, the technology to deliver a 3D printed insole that meets Superfeet’s exacting standards didn’t exist. Our new solution allows us to create the most individualised shape and fit on the planet.”

Steitz Secura chief executive Michael Huth said: “This footwear innovation campaign moves us to the technological forefront of the industry. The concept of customised safety shoes is a true world innovation and will be the benchmark for the future.”

HP says that with FitStation it is reinventing the in-store retail experience for shoppers by marrying the convenience of local printing with a new level of personalisation. The scanner can also recommend existing off-the-shelf in-soles where relevant.

HP says the new technology also has the potential to disrupt the supply chain, enabling local on-time manufacturing and enabling retailers to sell products they don’t have to keep in inventory. It is also likely to reduce the rate of product returns.

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